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City leaders denounce hate after New Zealand mosque shootings

"This is not a time for fighting; this is a time to be united," said Imam Qazi Qayyoom.

A rally against anti-Semitism was held Sunday at Asphalt Green, where protesters held signs and called for unity after swastikas were found painted at the recreation center and in the wake of the mosque shootings in New Zealand. (Credit: Todd Maisel)

Elected officials and supporters gathered on the Upper East Side on Sunday to denounce hate in the wake of the mosque shootings in New Zealand and anti-Semitic graffiti recently sprayed at a recreation center in the city. 

A boisterous crowd of more than 100 people gathered to listen to the group, which included Rep. Carolyn Maloney, and one theme reigned: Hate in all forms must be stopped. 

"This hate can't be tolerated," Maloney (D-Manhattan) said. "When something happens once, it's a shock. When it happens twice, it's a wake-up call. But when it happens over and over again and in our city and across our nation and across the world, it is a call to arms, a sign that all of us need to be vigilant and need to do everything in our power to speak out against it."

The rally came after 50 people were killed in a pair of shootings at mosques in New Zealand on Friday. Also last week, swastikas were found painted at Asphalt Green’s Upper East Side campus on York Avenue, officials said. 

Queens-based Imam Qazi Qayyoom said though people may have cultural or religious differences, it is necessary to come together in peace.

"We are receiving the same ray of the sun. We are eating the same food," he said. "This is not a time for fighting; this is a time to be united."

The Rev. Al Sharpton, who was met with boos from the crowd, said it was important to stand together.

"There are those who would heckle me for coming today; I come anyway because hate must be denounced. They can heckle all they want until we stop anti-Semitism, racism, homophobia and any form of bigotry, we are all under threat," he said.

Rabbi Arthur Schneier, of the Park East Synagogue, said there should be increased protection for all houses of worship.

"No one should have to risk their life in order to enter a house of worship," he said, starting a chant of "love prevails over hatred."

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